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FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

OUR LADY OF KNOCK (1879) CAME TO A COUNTRY WHICH HAD REMAINED FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

Mary came to a country which had remained faithful through centuries of trials and persecutions. Ireland was poverty stricken, with most of its people living in almost unbelievable squalor. The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 had officially ended three centuries of persecution of the Church. During that time thousands of persons had been put to death for their religion.

THE PERSECUTION HAD TAKEN A MORE INSIDIOUS FORM

After 1829, the persecution simply took a more insidious form. Catholics were no longer slaughtered, but they were offered bribes of food and money to abandon their religion and to send their children to non-Catholic schools. It must have been difficult for a man to refuse such a bribe in the famine years when he saw the thin emaciated faces of his wife and children, but the vast majority of people preferred starvation to renouncing their faith.

THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE PREFERRED STARVATION TO RENOUNCING THE FAITH 

The year 1847 was one of the worst in Ireland’s history. That was the year of the dread potato famine, when thousands died of starvation and thousands of others were forced to leave the country. When it was over, the population of Ireland was half of what it had been, and even today it is much smaller than it was before 1847. There were failures of the potato crop again in 1877, 1878, and 1879.

Typhus fever struck down many of those who escaped death by starvation. At the Cross graveyard in the north of Mayo there were from five to fifteen funerals a day. Because the people were so poor and because so many died, most of them had to be buried without coffins.

Famine, fever, abject poverty, cruel persecution – surely a nation could bear no more. It seemed that the Irish race was destined to be wiped out. Just when conditions were at their worst, Mary appeared at Knock.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 

 

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ST MICHAEL, ARCHANGEL – DEFENDER OF GOD’S PEOPLE FROM OF OLD

Both in the Old and the New Testament, the holy Archangel Michael is called the “guardian angel of the people of God”. He is also honoured as the “Herald of the General Judgment” and the “Guardian of Paradise”. It is his office to lead all the elect into the Kingdom of Eternal Glory.

Defender and leader of God’s people in Paradise

The world’s history is replete with instances of St Michael’s solicitude for the children of men during the time of their earthly pilgrimage. He began to fulfil his office as defender and leader of God’s people in the Garden of Paradise. St Ambrose says that God commissioned St Michael to lead Adam into Paradise, to explain to him the purpose of his creation, to guide him and to associate with him in visible form. After the fall of Adam and Eve, this same glorious Archangel stood guard at the gate of Paradise with flaming sword, “to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen 3:24).

The Fathers of the Church tell us that even though in many instances the name of St Michael is not mentioned in Holy Scripture, when reference is made to the services of an angel, we may confidently believe that it was either St Michael himself who rendered assistance, or his angelic subjects, who did so at his command.

Important missions

They speculate that it may have been St Michael who warned Noe [Noah] of the coming flood, and that it was through St Michael that Abraham was named the father of the chosen people and received that wonderful promise which Holy Church has immortalised in her prayers for the dead: “May the holy standard-bearerMichael, introduce them into that holy light which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his descendants.”

The Angel who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:2) was St Michael, according to the teaching of St Gregory Nazianzen. It was this mighty Angel who performed the wonders which took place at the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and through whom God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Likewise, the Angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (4 [2] Kings 19:35) was the holy Archangel Michael.

After the death of Moses, according to an ancient Jewish tradition to which St Jude refers to in his Epistle (Jude 1:9), St Michael concealed the tomb of Moses from the people, and also from Satan, who wished to disclose it to the Israelites to seduce them thereby to the sin of false worship.

God revealed to St Michael the designs of His justice and mercy regarding His chosen people. Of this the prophecies of Daniel and Zacharias bear witness. Finally, it was this great celestial prince who aided the Israelites and rendered the army of Judas Macchabeus victorious over their enemies.

(Even to this day the Jews invoke the holy Archangel Michael as the principal defender of the Synagogue and their protector against enemies. On the Feast of the Atonement they conclude their prayers with this beautiful invocation: “Michael, Prince of Mercy, pray for Israel, that it may reign in Heaven, in that light which streams forth from the face of the King who sits upon the throne of mercy.”)

Protector of the Church

Just as the chosen people of the Old Law were marvellously protected by St Michael, so we may believe that this same prince of Heaven protects the Church of God even more wonderfully. Under the New Law, as under the Old, St Michael is the “Vicar of the Most High and the Prince of His people,” ever prepared to render assistance. The Fathers of the Church are of one mind in teaching that St Michael is the guardian angel and the protector of the Catholic Church.

Time and again, in centuries past, St Michael came to the rescue when dreadful wars and persecutions threatened to destroy Christianity. He it was who, at the command of Mary, Queen of Angels, came to the assistance of Constantine the Great in the fourth century and helped his forces to gain a brilliant victory over the pagan Emperor Maxentius. The Archangel himself revealed his identity in this instance. Appearing to Constantine after the completion of a beautiful church, which the latter had erected in his honour in gratitude, he said: “I am Michael, the chief of the angelic legions of the Lord of hosts, the protector of the Christian religion, who while you were battling against godless tyrants, placed the weapons in your hands.” This famous edifice, generally known as the Michaelion, has been the scene of many miracles wrought through the great Archangel.

Many miracles

Later, St Michael proved himself a powerful protector against invasion. The Greek Emperor Justinian erected six churches in his honour, in grateful recognition of his assistance. St Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, who in the fifteenth century saved France, ascribed her vocation and her victories to St Michael. Three times he appeared to her and informed her that she was called to deliver her country. In the sixteenth century, when it seemed that the Turks (Muslims fighting under the Turkish sultan) would conquer all Europe, St Michael at the command of the Blessed Virgin again championed the cause of the Christian (Catholic) Faith, and a glorious victory was gained over the infidels at the Battle of Lepanto.

Thus has St Michael proved himself a valiant warrior for the honour of God, both in Heaven and on earth. And he still wages incessant war with the archfiend Satan in the great Kingdom of God on earth, the Church.

Victorious St Michael

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was reputed to have had visions of the past and future combats of the Church. Repeatedly she saw St Michael, in the form of a warrior, standing above the Church, replacing his bloodstained sword in its scabbard as a sign of victory. She was also shown how, in the present-day struggles of the Church, St Michael would bring about a most glorious victory. This thought should be consoling to all faithful Christians who view with alarm the many shafts of persecution now being directed against the Church.

Pope Leo XIII, realising by divine enlightenment the present and future struggles of the Church against the powers of Hell, felt convinced that through the intervention of St Michael, Hell would be conquered and the Church restored to peace and liberty. He therefore composed a prayer in honour of this warrior Archangel and ordered it to be recited daily after low Mass in all the churches throughout the Christian world.

It is said that one day, having celebrated the Holy Sacrifice, the aged Pontiff was in conference with the Cardinals. Suddenly, he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side feared that he had already expired, for they could find no trace of his pulse. However, after a short interval the Holy Father rallied and, opening his eyes, exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I was permitted to see!” He had been shown in spirit the tremendous activities of the evil spirits and their ravings against the Church. But in the midst of this vision of horror, he had also beheld consoling visions of the glorious Archangel Michael, who had appeared and cast Satan and his legions back into the abyss of Hell. Soon afterwards, he composed the well-known prayer: “St Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and the snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray…”

The Church has special need of St Michael’s powerful protection in our times. On all sides she is assailed by strong and bitter enemies. In one country after another, religious persecution rises to an ever higher pitch of hatred and insolence. The terrible crimes which have been committed in recent times, and are still being committed against the Church, both in her sanctuaries and against her members, surely are instigated by the devil. No human mind could be base enough to conceive and put them into execution.

The gates of Hell shall never prevail

We know that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against the Church, for our Lord has promised to be with her till the End of Time, but we must do our part in defending her cause. God might have cast the rebel down into Hell by a single act of His Will, but he chose rather to send against them His armies of loyal spirits under the leadership of the great St Michael. So too, in the present critical times, He could confound the enemies of the Church by merely willing to do so. But He wills, rather, that we should cooperate in her defence under the leadership of the Great Captain of the heavenly hosts.

– From: ‘Neath St Michael’s Shield, Fifth Edition, 1962

 

 

 

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THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE GENERAL JUDGEMENT

“Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven” (Matt. 24:30)

The pagan theory, held by more than one Government in our days, that the State as such knows no master, either in the heaven above or on the earth below, that it is a law unto itself, and is wholly independent of the moral order which binds individuals, is as untrue as it is blasphemous.

…as untrue as it is blasphemous

And its further contention that there is no sanction in this world or in another for what men may be pleased to call its misdeeds is equally false and contrary to facts.

…contrary to facts

That there is a punishment even on this earth for the collective crime of a nation or people is made apparent for all time by the tragic events of years past. But over and above the downfall of a guilty country and its ruin at the hands of an outraged world, there is awaiting it a further and more terrible, though less immediate, retribution of which we are reminded in the words quoted at the head of this conference, and that is the sentence that will be passed at the General Judgement. Let us betake ourselves in thought to that day of awful consummation, when right will be vindicated for ever, and wrong finally dethroned and cast into the burning.

The General Judgement

In imagination, helped out by the words of the Gospel, let us envisage the scene. The world then has grown old: its course is wellnigh run. The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place.

The day of consummation when right will be vindicated for ever…

False prophets have gone abroad and seduced many, and unless these days had been shortened even the elect would have been perverted. Nations have arisen one against another and murderous wars have laid waste the land; pestilences and famines and earthquakes have exercised their sway over the face of the earth. A mighty persecution against all that is holy and good, against Christ and His Church has broken out.

…and wrong will be finally dethroned and cast into the burning

There have been signs in the heavens: the sun refused to give its light, and the moon has turned to blood, for a conflagration of unexampled proportions has sprung up and spread far and wide and threatens to consume the world.

The Gospel has been preached to all nations, and the abomination of desolation is standing in the Holy Place

And suddenly there is a sound, the like of which never was heard before: it is the trumpet of Judgement summoning the quick and the dead before the tribunal of God.

At that piercing blast the countless generations of the dead start from their graves as if they had been but sleeping, and the sea gives up those that were buried in its depths. All are there, those that inhabited the earth before the Deluge, the five empires of Daniel, Jews and Greeks and Romans, Christian and heathen, rulers of States and their subjects, the rich, the poor, the learned, the ignorant.

And suddenly there is a sound which has never been heard before: a piercing trumpet blast

And then “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the heavens,” a wail will arise from all the tribes of the earth, and they shall see the Son of Man coming “in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty”, with Blessed Mary at His side, and the apostles around Him, and an innumerable multitude of angels forming His retinue.

The trumpet of Judgement, summoning the living and the dead

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived. It is a generally accepted theological opinion that each one of that immense assemblage will have been already judged after death in private fashion and that his state will have been sealed for evermore. None the less is the General Judgement of the last day a final and fitting complement to the dispositions of divine governance; in no sense a superfluous pageant or scenic display but the necessary epilogue of the bloodstained annals of mankind.

The Son of Man is coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty

Man is not merely an individual who can sin against his Maker in his private capacity: he is associated with others, he is the member of a state, or community, or family; he has friends who have come under his influence or by whom he has himself been influenced, and it is only right and proper that the sins of these aggregate bodies, and the guilt of each individual in relation to his neighbour should be exposed before the world and meet with the overwhelming reprobation of men and angels, of Christ and of God.

The most solemn and awe-inspiring moment in the history of the world has arrived

Then at length shall the ways of Providence, so often mysterious and hidden, be revealed and justified in the eyes of all creatures. Then shall nations, the proudest and mightiest, rulers first and subjects after, stand arraigned for judgement in the fierce light of day, humbled to the dust and held up to universal condemnation not only for the unjust wars they have waged, the rivers of blood they have shed to satisfy an insensate ambition, and the atrocities they have perpetrated in defiance of every law, divine and human; but also in many instances for their national apostasy, their loudly advertised irreligion, their persecution of the Church, their oppression of the poor, the countenance they gave to vice and corruption.

Man is not merely an individual who can sin in his private capacity, he sins in his public role 

These are crimes calling to heaven for vengeance; and yet God often delays, they are not always visited by Him in the lifetime of the evildoers. Sometimes even iniquity seems to prosper in the high places, and an unrighteous cause may succeed and prevail.

At the Last Day, however, “the people will be seen to have devised vain things” and “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them and speak to them in his anger and trouble them in his rage” (Psalm 2). Shame unutterable shall be their portion. There shall be “gnashing of teeth and the call for mountains to cover them,” but all in vain final humiliation and utter discomfiture will be public and irretrievable.

Man’s public and hidden misdeeds will be brought to account in public and in full view of whom they have wronged without anybody having apologised to them, without having even tried to put it right and without having done penance before God and His Church

The General Judgement, moreover, besides bringing fit retribution to States and Peoples for their manifold crimes will also expose and avenge those innumerable sins which are not merely private and personal to men, but in which others are involved, scandals which have led them into evil, false teachings which have sapped and endangered their faith, wicked examples which they have been induced to imitate, malicious slanders that have assassinated their character, cruel deeds that have embittered their life.

Transgressions in regard to neighbour

It is only just that the workers of evil should answer to God in private for their more hidden misdeeds, those against themselves and against Him, but that they should be brought to account in public and in presence of those they have wronged for their other transgressions in regard to their neighbour.

And hence it is not a little remarkable that the sentence of the Judge on that day will make no mention of secret sins, but only of such as may have hurtfully affected others.

Depart from me, for I was hungry and you gave me not to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me not to drink; I was a stranger and you took me not in; naked and you covered me not, sick and in prison and you did not visit me – and: As long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you it to me (Matt 25:41 et seq.)

We do not take consolation or joy in the thought of the punishment that the wicked will suffer at that great Day of Judgement; we do not find pleasure in another’s pain, however much he may have deserved it. But we may well be consoled to think that at the Last Day God’s ways will be justified and all His claims upon the worship and service of His creatures will be vindicated, that all wrongs will be righted.

At the Last Day all wrongs will be righted

We may secure that the General Judgement will be to each of us individually a day of consolation, for according to Our Lord’s own words the final sentence passed upon us will depend upon the manner in which we have acquitted ourselves in the observance of God’s first and great commandment of charity.

God’s first and great commandment of charity

If in spite of many other sins and imperfections of which we had repented during life, we have always steadily striven to exercise charity, then to us will be said before that mighty host of all our fellow beings those consoling words:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger and you took me in: naked and you covered me: sick and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me (Matt 25:34 et seq.)

At the final day of reckoning God’s ways will be justified

What an incentive this is to all of us to practise charity in the many and sundry ways that are offered to us every day, so that at the final day of reckoning we may stand up unafraid and consoled at that Great Judgement of Our Lord.

– From: Lift Up Your Hearts, Christopher J. Wilmot, S.J., The Catholic Book Club, London, 1949

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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FR JOHN ALMOND, CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR FOR THE FAITH

“It was while Speke Hall was still in Catholic hands that Rev. John Almond died for the Catholic Faith. He was born about the year 1577 at Speke, so one account says, or on the borders of Alperton, as he himself states in his examination. He went to school at Much Woolton, and passed thence to the English College at Rheims and then to that at Rome. Little is known of his life on the Mission, but the following account of him is given in Challoner’s Memoirs of Missionary Priests:

 

…came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion…

 

‘On Saturday, being 5th December, 1612, between 7 and 8 in the morning, came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion John Almond, a man of the age of 45, by his own relation; yet in his countenance more grave and staid, beginning to be besprinkled with hairs that were white – who having tarried beyond the seas about ten years to enable himself by his studies returned into his native country, where he exercised a holy life with all sincerity, and a singular good content to those that knew him, and worthily deserved both a good opinion of his learning and sanctity of life… full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.’

 

‘Ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him’

 

Mr. Almond, Challoner says, was apprehended on March 22, 1612, and brought before Mr. John King, lately advanced to the bishopric in London. At his examination he showed wonderful courage and most extraordinary acuteness, as the following will show. [A – Rev. John Almond; B – Anglican Bishop John King]

 

B. What is your name? A. My name is Francis. B. What else? A. Lathome. B. Is not your name Molyneux? A. No. B. I think I shall prove it to be so. A. You will have more to do than you ever had to do in your life. B. What countryman are you? A. A Lancashire man. B. In what place were you born? A. About Allerton. B. About Allerton! Mark the equivocation. Then not in Allerton? A. No equivocation. I was not born in Allerton, but in the edge or side of Allerton. B. You were born under a hedge then, were you? A. Many a better man than I, or you either, has been born under a hedge. B. What! you cannot remember that you were born in a house? A. Can you? B. My mother told me so. A. Then you remember not that you were born in a house, but only that your mother told you so; so much I remember, too. B. Were you ever beyond the seas? A. I have been in Ireland. B. How long since you came thence? A. I remember not how long since, neither is it material. B. Here is plain speaking, is it not? A. More plain than you would give, if you were examined yourself before some of ours in another place. A. I ask, are you a priest? A. I am not Christ; and unless I were Christ in your own grounds, I cannot be a priest. B. Are you a priest, yes or no? A. No man accuseth me. B. Then this is all the answer I shall have? A. All I can give unless proof come in. B. Where have you lived, and in what have you spent your time? A. Here is an orderly course of justice sure! What is it material where I have lived, or how I have spent my time, all the while I am accused of no evil?

 

He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold

 

He thus continued to parry the questions put to him through a long and tedious examination, after which he was committed to Newgate Prison, from whence after some months he was brought to trial, upon an indictment of high treason, for having taken orders beyond the sea by authority of the See of Rome, and for remaining in this country contrary to the laws. At his trial he showed the same vivacity of wit and resolution as he had done in his examination, but was brought in guilty by the jury, though he neither denied nor confessed his being a priest; and what proofs were brought of his being such do not appear.

 

At his execution he prayed earnestly for the king and all the royal family, and that his posterity might inherit the crown of England for ever. He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold, saying: ‘I have not much to bestow or give, for the keeper of Newgate hath been somewhat hard unto me and others that way, whom God forgive, for I do. For, I having been prisoner there since March, we have been ill-treated continually, for we were all put down into the hole or dungeon, or place called Little Ease, whence was removed since we came thither two or three cart-loads of filth or dirt; we were kept twenty-four hours without bread, meat or drink, loaded with irons, lodging on the damp ground, and so continued for ten days or thereabouts.’

 

‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul’

 

He gave the executioner a piece of gold, and desired him to give him a sign when the cart was to be drawn away, so that he might die with the name of Jesus in his mouth. He often repeated the words, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul,’ and at the sign being given, he cried, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu,’ and than hanging for the space of three Paters [‘Our Father’, i.e. The Lord’s Prayer], some of the bystanders pulling him by the legs to dispatch his life, he was cut down and quartered, his soul flying quickly to Him who redeemed us all. So far the manuscript written by an eyewitness, says Bishop Challoner, who adds: ‘Mr. Almond suffered at Tyburn, December 5, 1612, in the forty-fifth year of his age, the eleventh of his Mission.”

– From: Old Catholic Lancashire, Dom F. O. Blundell, Burns Oates & Washbourne, Publishers to the Holy See, London 1925

 

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UNSUNG HEROES OF LIVERPOOL – EXCERPTS OF A CATHOLIC PRIEST’S DIARY

“To understand the early post-Reformation history of Catholics in Liverpool two points must be clearly borne in mind: the first, that the town up to the year 1700 was of very small size, with only about 5,000 inhabitants (Vict. Hist., p. 23); the second, that it was a centre of civil and legal activity for South-west Lancashire. This latter fact made the practice of the Catholic religion impossible within its boundaries, for if in remote country districts the gentry and people alike had the greatest difficulty in evading the fines for non-attendance at the Protestant place of worship, it would be quite impossible for them to evade such fines in a town full of civil and legal functionaries.

Fines for non-attendance at the place of worship dictated by the government

Again, the constant search for priests, which made the priests’ hiding-places so common in the farm-houses and country mansions of Lancashire – this priest-hunting process evidently made it impossible for the Catholic clergy to remain in a town where every person was known and every detail of the law carried out by subservient officials. The above remarks apply, not only to Liverpool, but to all the towns of Lancashire; so that, while many country districts can prove their succession of priests – and, in some sort, of chapels also – none of the towns can show an earlier chapel than does Liverpool, where Mass was certainly said somewhere as early as 1701.

Catholic priests were hunted down and forced to live undercover

But if we take a map of that period and consider Liverpool as a town of 5,000 inhabitants, and its area to be confined within half a mile of the present pier-head, we shall find that a goodly lot of villages surround the town, and that in many of these villages there were priests’ residences and facilities for hearing Mass and receiving the sacraments. Thus, counting from north to south, we find Little Crosby, Ince Blundell, Lydiate, Netherton (or Sefton Hall), Gillmoss (or Croxteth), Portico, Woolton (or Speke). When we consider the heroic sacrifices which our Catholic forefathers were willing to make for the practice of their religion, we may justly assume that the few Catholic families whom necessity forced to reside in Liverpool would find means to attend one or other of these chapels. In the present volume, four of the above-mentioned chapels are dealt with; the others will follow in succeeding volumes.

Map of Liverpool, 1765, showing 1.: Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, 2. and inset: The Romish Chapel

Map of Liverpool, 1765, showing 1.: Parish Church of Our Lady and St Nicholas, 2. and inset: The Romish Chapel

"This plan of Liverpool, Surrvey'd in June 1765 is Most Humbly Inscribed..."

“This plan of Liverpool, Surrvey’d in June 1765 is Most Humbly Inscribed…”

The heroic sacrifices Catholics were willing to make for the practice of their faith

To the writer of these pages it is a source of boundless gratitude that the first priest to visit Liverpool in post-Reformation times was provided, not by the Molyneux of Sefton, great Catholics as they at the time were, nor by the Irelands of Lydiate, but by the Blundells of Crosby, who had, indeed, been more closely associated for one hundred years with Catholic life in the district, and had in consequence suffered more heavily. Perhaps a kind Providence thus rewarded them.

Government informants and the succession

Besides the residences for priests just enumerated – all of which have their representative chapel to-day – there were others, which at different periods helped to keep alive the Faith in the district. Fazakerley Hall, the seat of the family of that name, was, says Mr. Gillow, a venerable mansion taken down in 1823. It contained an ancient chapel, and in 1716 Richard Hitchmouth, the apostate priest, declared that he himself had officiated there for some time, and informed the commissioners for forfeited estates that it possessed a large silver chalice and paten. From other information during the Commission it appears that Hitchmouth was succeeded in the Mission by Mr. Thos. Wogrill. There was an endowment for the priest at Fazakerley Hall arising from a mortgage on an estate of 60 acres in the possession of Will. Tarleton at Orrell. In 1750 Fr. Henry Tatlock, S.J., is described as serving two places, of which Fazakerley was one, and here he died in 1771. Fr. Thos. Brewer served these places from 1774 to 1780, but after this it would seem that Fazakerley Hall changed hands, and the Mission was discontinued.

The name appears, generation after generation, in the recusant rolls through all the centuries of persecution of Catholic Christians

Earlier notices of Fazakerley are when Father Thos. Eccleston (born 1643, ordained 1677) came to the Lancashire Mission and went to Fazakerley Hall. In 1694 he was rural dean of the West Derby Hundred, and gave £50 to the common fund. Rev. Thos. Fazakerley, born 1611, was ordained at the English College, Rome, in 1635. He came on to the Mission in Lancashire, and, dying in 1664, was buried at Harkirke, Little Crosby. ‘The family of Fazakerley,’ to quote Mr. Follow again, ‘was very ancient, and remained staunch in its adherence to the Faith. The name appears, generation after generation, in the recusant rolls through all the centuries of persecution… The mansion, besides its domestic chapel, was full of priests’ hiding-places.

The mansion was full of priests’ hiding-places

Regarding the history within the actual boundaries of old Liverpool, we are fortunate in having a most interesting account from the pen of Rev. T. E. Gibson, published in the Liverpool Catholic Almanac for 1887 and 1888.* [1]

Father Gibson devotes some pages to the history of St. Nicholas Church at the landing stage, and gives the original charters of the Catholic Bishops in 1361 and 1459, showing how by this latter, those who made offerings to the chapel of St. Mary of the Key (Quay) were granted an indulgence of forty days. ‘This shows,’ he says, ‘how ancient in our city was the custom of decorating the image of our Blessed Lady with flowers and lights, and silently appeals to us to emulate the piety of our forefathers.’ Indeed, I would like to quote more, but feel myself bound to adhere to the rule not to treat of pre-Reformation matters in these volumes, for fear of running to too great length. It should be noted, however, that the old church is marked on all the plans of the city up to 1821 as “Our Lady and St. Nicholas,” whilst the notice-board outside the church still proclaims it as ‘The Parish Church of Our Lady and St. Nicholas.’

They were denied burial by the government because of their Catholic faith

Of the Catholics within the city during the years 1600-1700 we obtain only occasional glimpses, for no priest was stationed in the town. In the catalogue of burials at Harkirke are the following: ’31 Aug. 1613, John Synett, an Irishman, borne in Wexforde, master of a barke, was excommunicated by the B(ishop) of Chester for being a Catholicke recusant, and so dying at his house in Liverpoole was denyed to bee buried at Liverpoole Churche or Chappell and therefore was brought and buried in this sayd buriall place of ye Harkirke in ye afternoone of the last day of August 1613.’ And again: ’20 May 1615, Anne ye wyffe of George Webster of Liverpoole (tenant to Mr. Crosse) dyed a Catholicke, and being denyed buriall at ye Chappell of Liverpoole by ye Curate there, by ye Maior, and by Mr. More, was buried in ye Harkirke.’ The Crosse family did not change their religious profession at once, for in 1628 John Crosse of Liverpool, as a convicted recusant, paid double to the subsidy (Vict. Hist.).

Government officials did not tire of harrassing people for them to renounce their Catholic faith

The recusant roll of 1641 contains only five names, four being those of women. In 1669 four papist recusants were presented at the Bishop of Chester’s visitation, namely: Beres, gent., Mary, wife of George Brettargh, William Fazakerley and his wife; but in 1683 there were thirty-five persons, including Richard Lathom, presented for being absent from [governmental Anglican] church, and in the following year there were thirty-nine. The revival of presentations was no doubt due to the Protestant and Whig agitation of the time. James II endeavoured to mitigate the effects of it: in 1686, being ‘informed that Richard Lathom, of Liverpool, chirurgeon, and Judith his wife, who keep also a boarding school for the education of youth at Liverpool, had been presented for their exercising the said several vocations without license, by reason of their religion (being Roman Catholics) and being assured of their loyalty, he authorised them to continue, remitted penalties incurred, and forbade further interference’ (Vict. Hist., p. 50).

Some of the lists are here inserted, containing names still prominent amongst the Catholics of Liverpool.

CONVICTED RECUSANTS, 1641

[original list; original entries incl. spelling & punctuation: ]

Walton.

Roberte ffazakerley, gent. et ux. IIs Vlll d.

Ellen ffazakerley, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Margaret ffazakerley, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Lawrence Bryers, et ux IIs VIII d.

Will Chorley, gent et ux II VIII d.

Eme Chorley, sp(inste)r XVI

Nicholas ffazakerley, gent et ux II VIII d.

Henry Stananoght, et ux II VIII d.

Will Topping, et ux II VIII d.

Joane Tyror, vid(ua) XVI d.

Thos. Longhorne, et ux. II VIII d.

Dorothy Barker, sp(inste)r XVI d.

Ann Briage, vid(ua) XVI d.

John ffisher, et ux II VIII d.

 

West Derbie.

Elizabeth Mollinex, vid XVI d.

Katherin Mollinex, XVI d.

Thomas Welsh & ffrancis, ux. ejus II VIII d.

Margeria ux Hugh Barner, XVI d.

Arthur Tyrer et Margret, ux. ejus II VIII d.

Thomas fflecher, XVI d.

Ann ux. Robt. Dorwin, XVI d.

Thomas Mollinex, XVI d.

George Woods et Susan, ux ejus II VIII d.

Robt. Mercer & Ellin, ux ejus. II VIII d.

John Sergent, et ux. II VIII d.

John Stockley et Marie, ux ejus II VIII

Andrew Mercer, XVI

Alice Rigbie, XVI

Will Moore et Margery, ux ejus II VIII

John Edgerton et Ellinor, ux ejus II VIII

John Lathom Lathom, (sic) et ux II VIII

Ellin Standish, vid XVI d.

George Standish, et ux VIII d.

James Pemberton, XVI

Valentine Richardson, et ux II VIII d.

Thomas Bolton, XVI

Margret ux. Edw. Henshaw, XVI d.

Ellin ux. John Miller, XVI

Mary Leyland, XVI d.

 

Liverpoole.

Ursula ux. John Banckes, XVI

Jane ux. Henry Haskeene, XVI

Alice Harison, sp(inste)r XVI

Elizabeth Parkinson, XVI

Arthur Muckowen, XVI

 

These were lesser gentry, the landowners coming under another rate.

‘1684. Extract from proceedings of the Portmoote or Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace holden for the Towne of Leverpoole, 12th Janr., 1684. Wee present the persons next undernamed for absenting themselves from divine Service. [Loyal Catholic Christians refusing to take part in enforced state church service (Anglican)]

Mr. William ffazakerley & his wife, Humphrey Harrison, John Hoole, James Mercer & his wife, John Tildesley, Edward Arthur & his wife, William Rydinge, William Segar, Mary Cowley, Margaret Bluckington, Alice, wife of Mathew Walker, Marie wife of George Braithwaite, Richard Lathom & his wife, Elizabeth Weaver, Mr. Richard Cleveland, Mr. Daniel Danser, Mr. Francis Tempest, William Gandy & his wife, Lawrence Myers, Ellen Bickesteth, Daniel Dwerrihouse, Henrie Thorpe & his wife, Trustam Jackson & his wife, Jane Canby widdow, William Burke & his wife, Ann fformby widdow, Peter Summers; Thomas Tyrer, smith & his wife; Thomas Lyon, smith; Henrie Knowles, baker & his wife; Richard Mercer, Tanner & his wife’

And the names occur year after year.

My wife went to Mass to Liverpool, to Pater Gelibrand at Mr. Lancasters

This brings our story to the commencement of the new century, when Rev. W. Gillibrand, chaplain to Mr. Nicholas Blundell of Crosby Hall, began to give service regularly in Liverpool. The diary* [2] of the latter records under date December 2, 1707: ‘Pater Gillibrand went hence: I could not prevale with him to hear ye discourse about Leige.’ A month later there is the following entry: ‘My wife went to prayers (Mass) to Liverpool, to Pat(er) Gelibrand at Mr. Lancasters.’ From this and other entries, says Father Gibson, we learn that Father Gillibrand lodged with Mr. Lancaster, who followed the business of a grocer. The Lancasters were a respectable Catholic family of the middle class; another brother was a doctor in good practice at Ormskirk, who is frequently mentioned in the diary; and a third was captain of a trading vessel. Some other extracts from the diary may be of interest:

Aged and infirm priests lodged at a building originally meant to be a school

’15th Aug. 1702. I went to Leverp(ool) with Coz(en) Edmund Butler. We halled ye Mary with a Handkerchaf but she answered not: he went on Bord ye Harington for Dublin.’ It is a long cry to the time when the Dublin Mail Packet could be hailed by passengers, but as the first dock – formed by deepening the old Pool, the site of the present Custom House – was not opened till 1700, the means of embarking for Ireland at that date must have been very primitive.

A similar entry is under date 2 May 1708: ‘Mr. Waring told us his Son was in danger to lose his Passage for Ireland, ye Ship being gone and he was forced to ride after her on Shore and so get on Border if he could.’

The next entry is interesting as showing the number of priests in this neighbourhood at the time: ’18 Aug. 1702. Mr. Mullins came in ye morning to pray and stayed till next day: Mr. Tasburgh and Little Man came hither in ye Afternoone.’ Mr. Mullins was priest at Mossuck Hall, in Bickerstaffe, a secluded spot a few hundred yards behind St Mary’s Chapel, Aughton. Rev. Henry Tasburgh, S.J., lived at the New House, at Ince Blundell, built shortly before with the view of its being used as a school. It never was so used, but became the home of aged and infirm priests of the Society. By ‘Little Man’ is meant his cousin and chaplain, Rev. W. Gillibrand, who throughout his life was a confidential friend and adviser. The following reads strangely to-day: ‘5 March 1705. I saw 3 Beggars whiped out of Leverpool,’ and next day: ‘My wife rid behind me to Leverpool: she saw ye Elephant.’

I count it great gain to do good and receive evil

Father Gillibrand did not remain long in Liverpool. He was gone before 1710, probably to his friends at Chorley. Rev. Francis Mannock, S.J., succeeded him. He lodged with a Mrs. Brownhill, as we learn from the following entry: ‘1712, January 27. My wife and I went to Liverpoole and heard Mr. Mannock preach. Mr. Tute (Tuite) and Mr. Morphew etc. were there. We dined at Mrs. Brownbills with her and Mr. Mannock.’ Father Mannock left Liverpool in 1715, and was serving the Yorkshire district in 1741; he died at York in 1748.

Rev. John Hardesty, S.J., whose real name was Tempest, was living in Liverpool in 1715, when a visit is thus recorded: ‘1715, Sept. 11. My wife and I heard Mr. Hardesty preach. We dined at Mr. Lancaster’s: I drank at the Woolpack with Mr. Lancaster and his brother, the doctor.’ The Woolpack was an inn in Dale Street to which Squire Blundell, when in Liverpool, usually resorted. It seems probable that Father Hardesty rented a house of his own, as his address was: ‘Mr. John Hardesty, at his house in Liverpool,’ and he had another priest living with him later on. The diarist says: ‘1718, June 22. My wife and I went to Liverpoole to hear Pat(er) Doodell hold forth at Mr. Hardesty’s. We dined there with Mr. Tute and his nephew, Mr. Nugent.’

After the death of Rev. John Mostyn, S.J., at Lydiate Hall in 1721, Father Hardesty was instructed to give the congregation there a monthly Mass. The diarist and his wife occasionally go over on a Sunday to hear Father Hardesty ‘hold forth,’ and the latter employed him as her confessor. Brother Foley tells us that he built the first chapel in Liverpool in 1736. Some idea of the privations he endured in the prosecution of his work may be gathered from the following letter, written in reply to some cavils on the subject:

I lived frugally, as not many would have been content to live

‘I wonder how it should come into anyone’s head that what I built at Liverpool was by subscription, and that it is required that an account be given of the money laid out on it, I know therefore, and you may show this declaration to whom you please, that while I lived in the aforesaid town, I received one year with another from the people, about one or two and twenty pounds a year by way of contribution to my maintenance, and that no other subscription was ever made for me, or for the buildings. From friends in other places I had part of the money, but much the greater part was what I spared, living frugally, and as not many would have been content to live. What disaffected people may say and give out I do not matter (sic). I count it great gain to do good and receive evil, nor do I regret my having spent the best years of my life in serving the poor Catholics of Liverpool.

I don’t regret my having spent the best years of my life in serving the poor Catholics of Liverpool

This letter was written in 1750 from Tixall, Staffordshire, where he had gone to be chaplain to Lord Aston. Father Hardesty had an old Jesuit father living with him for several years – Rev. Will. Pennington, whom Mr. Blundell saw distribute, on Palm Sunday, 1727, 256 palms to the congregation. From this we may form some idea of the number of Catholics at that period. Father Pennington was buried next to Mr. Aldred, S.J., in the Harkirke. ‘After a long illness, being a sort of co-adjutor to Mr. Carpenter of Liverpool, he dyed there 8th June 1736.’

Father Gibson continues: ‘As Mr. Blundell makes no mention of Mr. Hardesty in this entry, it is not improbable that he built his chapel some time previous to 1736, when it appears that Mr. Carpenter occupied his place. The last entry in the diary that relates to Mr. Hardesty was made on the occasion of the death of his chaplain, Rev. R. Aldred, S.J.: ‘1728, Feb. 24. Pat. Hardesty prayed for Mr. Aldred in his chapel: there was a large congregation.’

He had provided a refuge for the poor persecuted Catholics of Liverpool after the destruction of their chapel

The next source of information is Mr. Thomas Green, whose mother was Elizabeth Clifton of the Lytham family. His father, Francis Green, had provided a refuge at his house in Dale Street for the poor persecuted Catholics of Liverpool after the destruction of their chapel in 1746. He also gives an account of its demolition, which is in substance as follows: ‘When the Scots had retreated from Derby in 1746 so far to the north as to relieve the people of Liverpool from any danger of a visit from them, the mob assembled to pull down the small Catholic chapel at the S.W. corner of Edmund st. The priests, Fathers Hermenigild Carpenter and Thos. Stanley, met the mob, which behaved with the greatest respect to the priests and without noise or violence opened a passage for Father Carpenter to go up to the altar and take the ciborium out of the Tabernacle and carry it by the same passage out of the chapel. After this the mob tore up the benches and made a bonfire of every thing combustible in the chapel and priests’ house, and pulled the whole of both down. Such was the end of the first Catholic Chapel in Liverpool.

The mob tore up the benches and made a bonfire of everything combustible in the chapel and priests’ house, and pulled the whole of both down

‘Soon after the Battle of Culloden, in 1746, Henry Pippard, Esq., a principal merchant, then married to Miss Blundell, of Crosby (whose name he took on succeeding to the property), treated with the Mayor and Corporation to allow the Catholics to rebuild their chapel. This they peremptorily refused. Mr. Pippard observed that no law could prevent him from building a warehouse, and making what use he pleased of it. It was acknowledged that he might do this, but at his own risk. He then collected subscriptions, and built a warehouse of two stories upon vacant ground purchased from a Catholic family, lying on the south side of the same Edmund Street, the front of which street was covered by buildings and ‘six-yard’ houses, with small back yards opening into the intended chapel-yard. On the east side of this warehouse there were two large folding doors, one above the other, surmounted by a teagle rope, block and hook, capped against the rain as was then usual in Liverpool. The upper storey was to act as the chapel, its upper folding doors being bricked up within and the walls stuccoed: large leaded windows on the east, south and west, admitted light, and these were protected by strong outside shutters to be closed when there was no service. The ascent to the chapel was by a broad staircase on each side within the lower warehouse room, the centre of which was used for lumber, the entrance to the room being secured by strong folding doors.’ The plan of 1765 shows this ‘Romish chapel,’ and from the enlargement this description can be seen to be perfectly accurate. Mr. Blundell’s chapel was actually in use from 1746 till 1845, exactly one hundred years.

The new chapel, which was disguised as a warehouse, was in use for exactly 100 years

‘After September 24, 1764, Mr. and Mrs. Green went to their house in Dale Street; ‘while the new chapel was being built, Mass was said on Sundays and holidays in their garrets, the whole of which, with the tea and lodging-rooms of the two storeys underneath, were filled by their acquaintances of different ranks, and admitted singly and cautiously through different entrances from the two houses immediately adjoining on each side, which belonged to two very respectable and kind neighbours who were Presbyterians.

Clandestine Holy Mass took place in silence, by candlelight, without any ringing of the bell at the Elevation

‘Everything was done in silence, by candlelight, without any ringing of the bell at the Elevation,’ etc. With reference to the foregoing, Mr. Burke (Cat. Hist. of Liv.) justly remarks: ‘From this simple but graphic story we may infer that the anti-Catholic spirit ran high at this period, while ‘the different ranks’ tells us plainly that the Faith was still preserved among the better off as well as the poorer classes.’

In 1758 the chapel was again attacked 

The priests who successively served the ‘new chapel’ were Rev. Hermenegild Carpenter and Rev. Thomas Stanley, Rev. Michael Tichbourne, Rev. John Rigby, 1749-1758, Rev. William Wappeler, Rev. Anthony Carroll. In this year the chapel was again attacked by an infuriated mob, but was reopened in the following year. This chapel was enlarged in 1797 and continued to be used until St. Mary’s, from the design of A. W. Pugin, was built on the same site and consecrated in 1845. [Following the Catholic Emancipation Act etc., a process of restoring to Catholics in Britain and Ireland the human rights which they had been deprived of for several hundred years.] In consequence of the enlargement of Exchange Station it was taken down, but rebuilt stone by stone in Highfield Street, being re-consecrated July 7, 1885.”

Footnotes

*1) The present writer feels an apology is due for some of the more personal statements; he is, however, only quoting the Catholic Almanac, which contains many statements still more laudatory.

*2) The whole diary makes quite interesting reading. Copies are still on sale at the Philomena Co., Bold Street, Liverpool.

– Dom F. O. Blundell, O.S.B, Old Catholic Lancashire Vol. I, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London, 1925

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (JOHN 15:26-16:4)

THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH WILL BE MY WITNESS.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father,
he will be my witness.
And you too will be witnesses,
because you have been with me from the outset.

“I have told you all this
so that your faith may not be shaken.
They will expel you from the synagogues,
and indeed the hour is coming
when anyone who kills you will think he is doing a holy duty for God.
They will do these things
because they have never known the Father or myself.
But I have told you all this,
so that when the time for it comes
you may remember that I told you.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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“EXPOSED TO AN ALMOST IRRESISTIBLE PRESSURE TO CONFORM WITH THE HERD” – MARTYRDOM HAS MANY FACES

DO YOU EVER SUFFER FOR YOUR FAITH?

“Do you ever suffer for your faith? You may answer, facetiously, ‘Yes, every time I smell a steak being grilled on a Friday.’ There would be truth in your answer. Penance IS painful.

Virtue can be painful, too. Each time that we overcome a temptation to sin we suffer at least a little. Sometimes the suffering can be quite severe, as when a girl breaks off with the man she loves because she discovers that he has a divorced wife still living.

‘BLESSED ARE THEY WHO SUFFER PERSECUTION FOR JUSTICE’ SAKE’

This hardly would be the type of suffering which Jesus had in mind, however, when He said, ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Parents view the ordinary sacrifices which they make for their children as a natural expression of love. Similarly we should esteem the ordinary sacrifices entailed by God’s commandments as the minimum measure of our love for Him.

PERSECUTION FOR VIRTUE’S SAKE

Persecution for justice’ sake – that is, for virtue’s sake – calls for more than a minimum of love. The perfect exemplars of the eighth beatitude are, of course, the martyrs. A martyr proves his love for God by the ultimate test: death rather than sin.

Probably no one who reads these lines will ever be called upon to face such a heroic test of his love. However, there are more modest degrees of martyrdom. Anyone who speaks up in defence of God’s rights (in defence of racial justice, for example, or in defence of decency in dress, films and literature, or in condemnation of steady dating by highschoolers) at a time and place where those rights are not popular, is bound to incur some persecution. The persecution may be no more than raised eyebrows and chilly looks, but even that can hurt.

SOCIAL PRESSURE, ALMOST AS POWERFUL AS AN ABSOLUTE DICTATOR

Social pressure, the pressure to make us conform to the mores of the group, can be almost as powerful as an absolute dictator. We have a deep-rooted need to be liked and accepted by others. It hurts when, to defend the right and the good, we must alienate those whose good opinion we covet.

This is a type of martyrdom for which young people have more opportunities than do we oldsters. Social pressure is seldom so tyrannical and the urge to conform so powerful as during the adolescent years. Youth has such a hunger for peer acceptance, such an anxiety to be one of the crowd. In a harmless form, this urge to conform sends thousands of teenagers screaming after [a boy band]. In a less harmless form it sends thousands of college students migrating to the Florida beaches during the spring holidays, like mating seals flocking to the Pribilof Islands.

We do have ever so many fine young men and women, but we also have a progressive lessening of sexual restraint among the general population of teenagers and young adults. For many of our youth sexual experience has become the mark of sophistication, and ‘Everybody does it’ the supreme code of morality.

‘EVERYBODY DOES IT’

This poses a great challenge to us parents, priests and teachers. Our boys and girls have high ideals and a sincere desire to be virtuous. Outside the shelter of Catholic home and school, however, they are exposed to an almost irresistible pressure to identify with the herd, to conform to the rules which the herd imposes. If they do not conform, the penalty sometimes can be a painfully lonely life in high school or college.

[BEING MADE FUN OF, BEING OSTRACISED, BEING BULLIED FOR BEING ‘OUTED’ CHRISTIAN]

We who love them must help our youth to prepare for the test which, sooner or later, almost certainly they will face. We must lead them to such a strong and personal love for Christ that they may be able to withstand disapproval, ridicule, even ostracism for the sake of Him Whom they love.

YOUTHFUL HEROISM

In the Bible, the seventh chapter of the second Book of Maccabees gives us one of history’s greatest accounts of youthful heroism and parental nobility. A mother exhorts her seven sons to perseverance as, one by one, they are butchered in her presence for refusing to renounce God.

BE STEADFAST! BE STRONG! YOU ARE WORTH IT.

The mother of the Maccabees might well be our patron saint as we try to teach our sons and daughters the meaning of the eighth beatitude: ‘Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ [Matthew 5:10].”
– Fr Leo Trese (capital headings added afterwards)

 

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